port of entry

House Legislation Would Increase Use of Non-Intrusive Inspection Tech at Ports of Entry

Two House members want the Department of Homeland Security to increase its rate of inspection from 15 percent of commercial vehicles to 100 percent.

New bipartisan legislation introduced on Monday would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expand its use of non-intrusive inspection (NII) systems to include all vehicles that pass through American land ports of entry.

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), who serves as chairwoman for the House Committee on Homeland Security's subcommittee on oversight, management and accountability, introduced the Securing America’s Ports Act alongside her Republican counterpart, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.).

Last year, Congress appropriated $570 million for DHS use of the inspection technology at ports of entry. But that amount has only made it possible for border officials to scan 15 percent of commercial trucks and one percent of passenger vehicles entering the U.S. That’s a statistic that Torres Small and Crenshaw are hoping to change.

“Our community relies upon a vibrant, secure border and Congress must prioritize the safety of the residents who call it home,” Torres Small said in a statement. “By leveraging this effective technology to examine most vehicles, we help CBP officers work smarter and faster in detecting contraband while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel border states depend on.”

The pair pointed to data showing that the majority of drugs illegally brought into the U.S. is smuggled through land ports of entry rather than between them. The expanded use of NII systems would address the growing threat posed by transnational criminal organizations, the representatives said.

“Because NII has proven to be an effective and efficient tool for CBP, it’s important we implement use of this technology at every land port of entry for every vehicle seeking to enter the U.S,” Crenshaw said.

Both members appeared at an event on Monday at the Santa Teresa port of entry in New Mexico, where they heard from border officials on staffing issues and the use of private sector security services at the port.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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